It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. We had the Strat®, we had the Tele®, and they were lauded throughout the land. Then someone got the bright idea to switch their necks around, and things got complicated.
Mixing and matching Strat® and Tele® necks and bodies can be confusing. To know what works and what doesn’t one must pay close attention to the neck heels. The thing that keeps them from being interchangeable isn’t their dimensions, which are the same. It’s their shapes: a Tele’s® heel is squared, while a Strat’s® is rounded. As a result some combinations work and others don’t.
In a nutshell, these are the rules: a Strat® heel fits best in a Strat® neck pocket, but it will also fit and intonate in a Tele® neck pocket. It will leave small gaps in the corners of the pocket, but if the neck has a 22 fret fingerboard overhang they will be hidden. On the other hand, a Tele® heel only fits in a Tele® neck pocket. It will not fit or intonate in a Strat® pocket because its squared-off corners keep it from moving far enough into the pocket to sit at the proper distance from the bridge.
Mixing and matching necks is one of the easiest ways to build something unique – a guitar different from the masses. With the right planning it just may become a far better thing than you have ever done, and a far better playing experience than you have ever known.